Although there certainly is an authoritarian streak in Hugo Chavez, at least he bothered to ask:

Humbled by his first electoral defeat ever, President Hugo Chavez said Monday he may have been too ambitious in asking voters to let him stand indefinitely for re-election and endorse a huge leap to a socialist state.

"I understand and accept that the proposal I made was quite profound and intense," he said after voters narrowly rejected the sweeping constitutional reforms by 51 percent to 49 percent.

Would-be dictators are usually not quite so democratic about achieving their goals. As Charlie Savage reports in today’s Boston Globe, they’re usually more like this:

President Bush this month issued his first signing statement since the Democratic takeover of Congress, reserving the right to bypass 11 provisions in a military appropriations bill under his executive powers.

The principles involved here are pretty much the stuff of 10th grade civics classes. You don’t have to have an advanced degree in Smelly Left Wing Hippy Studies to appreciate that there is something profoundly flawed with our larger political narrative, where Chavez plays the role of dangerous, democracy-hating strongman and Bush just wants to protect the babies from the terrorist bogeymen.